As is standard during press conferences, Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack addresses the source of inquiry when answering questions. Late in Monday’s session with local press, something in the back of the room distracted him.
It was a new “reporter,” someone typically at the podium over the crowd.
Quarterback Derek Carr raised his hand and said, “Khalil, who is faster? You or Derek Carr?”
Mack paused a beat, and Carr answered his own question.
“We’ll find out tomorrow, won’t we?”
“Oh, for real?” Mack said with a laugh. “Now I’m excited about that.”
“I have to prove myself,” Carr said. “I’m a little disappointed in my Madden rating.”
No word on whether last year’s top draft picks dueled in a 40-yard dash, but both were thrilled it would be their only one of the offseason. As a quick aside, the race would be closer than you'd expect. Per 2014 NFL scouting combine results, it'd be a photo finish. Mack ran a 40 in 4.65 seconds. Carr was close behind at 4.69.
The pre-draft process is a stressful one Carr and Mack are thrilled is in the rearview. It gives them extra time to focus on new scheme, and less worry about the future.
“Yeah, it’s exciting knowing that you can just get to what you need to do instead of just running 40s all the time,” Mack said. “You have guys you can go against to keep that competitive nature, but knowing that it’s more important to turn that edge and try to sack the quarterback and focusing on that, it’s exciting.”
There’s also a few extra weeks interaction with head coach Jack Del Rio and his coaching staff. That will allow Carr to get the system down before the roster is complete.
“I get an extra month, or really a month and a half, of getting to learn the playbook, whereas last year I started late after the draft,” Carr said. “And a month and a half is forever. You can pretty much nail it down, a good majority of it at least, in three to four weeks, I feel like. This will be really nice, to have this part of it to where I can just nail it. That way, when we hit those mini-camps and all those things, I’m out there just teaching. I’m out there being exactly who I want to be.”
The Raiders are counting on Carr to lead the offense, a responsibility he didn’t assume until he was named the starter over Matt Schaub at preseason’s end. He can make a greater imprint on this year’s unit, bring the team together and prompt a fast start.
Last year at this time, Carr was a prospect. He’s a projected franchise quarterback now. The 24-year old is happier in this place than the old one.
“It was good to get right back into it and have a real offseason, not combine training and, ‘Are you going to land here? What’s your positives,’ or your strengths and weaknesses – all those kinds of questions,” Carr said. “I didn’t have to worry about any of that. I just had to go out and train. I knew what I was training for this time. That was nice, these past -– what is it –- four months now, to just be out there knowing what I need to work on to help make my game better at the NFL level, instead of working on my 40 start. Hopefully, I’ll never have to run another one.”